Draw inspiration from the greatest strategists and marketers when creating your plan for the year ahead
It’s the time of year for setting out what you want to achieve in the coming twelve months at both a personal and business level. Given that ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions‘, you’ll also want to think through how and when you will achieve them.
It’s all too easy to get back into the work routine and find yourself so swamped with daily tasks that taking a step back and thinking about planning and vision for the long term ends up taking a back seat. Before you know it you’re several weeks into the year and you still haven’t found the time to sit down and properly plan out your strategy.
Marketing strategy and planning quotes
Sun Tzu’s legendary work on the ‘Art of War’ is over two thousand years old, but still is regarded as perhaps the greatest ever work on strategy ever produced and has even been applied to digital marketing strategy creation. As the great Chinese general said, tactics on their own won’t get you anywhere. You need to get the strategy right first.
Strategy must always come first. Tactics are the buttons you press to implement the strategy, they are subservient to the strategy and their success or failure comes down not to how well the buttons were pressed, but how smart (or stupid) the strategy which required those buttons to be pressed was.
Kenichi Ohmae brought Japanese business thinking to the west. This quote again shows how crucial it is to get the overall strategy right, and that it is aligned with objectives. It doesn’t matter how hard you are working every day if what you’re doing isn’t going to be impacting your key objectives.
Marketing technology quotes
Marketers involved in agency pitches to clients will recognise the ability of intelligent fools to make things more complex. Pitch documents have become huge wads of information, containing a menu of a million different strategies for the baffled client to choose from. I’m sure we can all agree it would take a whole lot of courage for an agency to pitch with a few sides of A4 that said in simple terms ‘this is what we will do, and we won’t try and sell you any tactics we don’t think will work’.
The tendency to over-complicate often also works its way into planning. When writing your plan, always try to make everything as simple as it possibly can be, anything else will simply waste time. Our Digital Marketing Toolkit resources cover the detailed analysis and insight needed for an informed, data-driven strategy, but we take care to include one-page summary formats to help simplify the overall strategy.
Consumer-centric marketing quotes
With ad-blocking becoming increasingly common, particularly among the tech savvy under 35s, marketing is going to have to shift from being intrusive to being helpful. This quote from marketoonist writer Tom Fishburne reminds us that really good marketing makes us forget we are even being marketed to.
David Ogilvy richly deserves his status as the ‘father of advertising’. This quote has been given new meaning in the age of behavioural economics and ‘nudges’, designed to get the customer to do certain things the marketer wants. Sometimes this forgets that the customer is not some abstract concept without free will, but is your husband, your brother or your mum. Treating your customer like your friend, rather than an idiot you can subliminally nudge into doing what you want, is bound to leave them feeling more valued and thus more likely to return.
The only historian ever to win a noble Prize for literature, two-time prime minister, two-time first lord of the admiralty and cigar aficionado, Churchill spent most of his life working on strategies, and made at least his fair share of strategic mistakes. If anyone should know when to re-thinking a strategy, it’s the mastermind behind the catastrophic Gallipoli and Italian campaigns. Churchill’s quote reminds us of the importance of analytics and taking time out to review them. No matter how good your strategy looks on paper, you should be careful to properly measure it and be willing to change course if it’s not having the intended effects.
Bob Hoffman, better known as ‘The Ad contrarian‘ has been doing great work critiquing the stupider trends in the ad industry over the past decade, and makes an excellent point that analytics teams should be better aware off. You can be swimming in data, but data is not valuable by itself. You need facts, principles and models. Humanity has watched the movement of the planets for thousands of years. The Greek root of the word ‘planet’ means ‘Wanderer’, because people watched the planets wander across the night sky. But it took Isac Newton coming up with the theory of gravity to work how and why they move in the way they do. Newton didn’t have any new data, but he created a theory that could predict the movement of any astronomical body perfectly accurately. He established facts.
Marketers are swimming in data, but are all too often lacking facts. We might be able to count how many clicks our banner ads get, but we don’t know who’s clicking on them, we don’t know why they’re clicking on them, and we don’t even know if they’re actually human or just a bot. Marketers are like the ancient Greeks, able to look up at the sky and see the movement of the planets, but totally unable to explain why they move in the way they do.